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I was not sure I was going to see the cinematic flavor-of-the-month Looper. The trailer left me a bit cold, particularly because I could not get my mind around the movie’s use of its central premise: Time Travel. Movies that deal with time travel always need to tread carefully. Since time travel is impossible (sorry, but it is), a movie needs to set its rules for it and then stick to it. I sensed some holes in Looper’s use of time travel which somewhat put me off.
That said, I am a sucker for time travel movies, and I was looking for something to do tonight. I went to see Looper.
The Premise: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a looper (a hitman for the mob who eliminates targets from the future). He goes about his job just fine until, one day, he discovers his target is his future self (Bruce Willis). His future self escapes, his bosses (somehow) find this out, and hijinks ensue.
Overall, the movie left me frustrated. While it had a good cast and an interestingly high concept, I somewhat felt it was a narrative mess. I feel that writer/director Rian Johnson struck gold with a fairly unique concept, but did not know what to actually do with it. Honestly, this movie completely turns into another film altogether about an hour or so in, and what it turns into is so amazingly clichéd, I was surprised see this is what Johnson settled on for a story. That second half also unexpectedly turns very dark in the second half (which is not so much a bad thing; just a direction that caught me off-guard).
I really do not want to spoil much, as I feel that would ruin the experience. However, some of the sequences just seemed too ridiculous and did not fit the movie’s world. In particular, Bruce Willis’s climatic showdown with the mob towards the end seems to be taken from a completely different movie.
All of that aside, what really bugged me about this movie (besides Gordon-Levitt’s completely unnecessary and distracting make-up to make him look more like Willis [which did not even work, in my opinion]) was the time travel mechanics. I could not help but think that Johnson wanted to eat his cake and keep it too. Nothing about it makes sense. If you start to think about it, it falls apart. Time travel movies can be notorious for this. Johnson introduces this cool idea of new memories folding into older memories as “the past” changes, but it does not mesh with what else is established. My advice: just go with it.
Even though I found it to be a middling movie, I will support Looper. It is a mainstream film with a high-concept attached to it. I love it when movies push that envelope. Plus, the diner scene when Gordon-Levitt and Willis face off (really, it is their only legitimate scene together) is very well done. The two actors have a great chemistry in this movie. However, it is not worth rushing out to see in the theaters. Wait for the DVD.